Saturday 9th May 2015
There was a welcome break in the recent showers when fifteen members of Tywi Woodland Group and Transition Tywi met for a walk around the Garn part of Carmel Woods, just to the east of the A476.
The woodlands, which stretch across the limestone ridge between Carmel and Pentregwenlais, are part of the much larger Cernydd Carmel Special Area of Conservation. Mat Ridley, Coed Cymru Officer with Carmarthenshire County Council, led our group and talked about the wildlife, history and management of the woodlands.
Parts of the woodland have been extensively quarried in the past, with lime kilns operating until about 1900, but after more than 100 years of recovery ash and hazel have returned, along with scarcer shrubs such as spindle and buckthorn.
The woodland floor was carpeted with wild garlic, bluebell, pignut, woodruff, meadow saxifrage and other flowering plants. Now really is the best time to visit Carmel to see this spectacle. We also saw lily of the valley and herb paris, both rare plants in Carmarthenshire, which are more likely to be found in the ancient woodland areas which were not quarried.
Matt showed us several of the small coppice coupes that were cut between 2009 and 2011 when the woodlands were managed by the Grassland Trust. These were experimental plots to see how the reinstatement of coppicing would affect the woodland flora.
As predicted, bramble has increased in places but is expected to decline as the ash and hazel canopy re-establishes. Both the woodland and grassland are now managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. The meadows are managed to increase their biodiversity.
Hedges were laid by a local contractor this winter and there is a regular volunteer group who help manage both meadows and woodlands. Contact Becca Killa for more details of this at email@example.com or 07970 780558.
We talked a little about what the future might hold if the Chalara ash disease becomes established in the county. If a significant amount of the ash is affected we may rely more on hazel, hawthorn and other shrubs to shade the woodland floor, discouraging bramble and maintaining the right conditions for the woodland flora. What is certain is that a close eye will need to be kept on the situation and careful management planned to keep Carmel Woods as a place we can all enjoy.
Further walks around different areas of Carmel Woods are to be confirmed. If you are interested in being informed when a further walk is confirmed, please send your details to Jen firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tywi Woodland Group is taking a break from its regular volunteer work days. If you would like to know about any occasional volunteer meetings of the group, please get in touch.